Let the Jasmines Bloom Again

Why do some people in my country think that hope is lost and that we should surrender to an unknown and dark fate? Why is the dream seen as illegitimate in a country that lived, only three years ago, a spectacular peaceful revolution? Are we already  tired after we have proved to all humans that dreams are our natural right and duty? Shouldn’t we now, more than ever, complete the journey armed with hope?

I am a Tunisian woman and I will tell you why I still have hope. I am that integral part of the nation which marked its history and present, and will mark its future. I am Queen Dido , I am Aziza Othmana², I am Bchira Ben Mrad³, I am your mother, sister, daughter, friend,… I am the Tunisian woman, in whom hope never dies.

Long time ago, when my country had been under the French occupation, I was present in the strikes. My participation was through the work of partisan struggle and also during the protests where I was subjected to harassment and arrests. I had a big role in transferring arms and information to the resistance fighters, and providing food and clothes for them, disguised as itinerant trader.

What was my only weapon at that time? Hope.

Tunisian women during the protests of April 1938

Many years later, when the breeze of the Jasmine Revolution had blown on my country at the end of the year 2010, I was not only present alongside my compatriots, but I also led the protests, bore pressures, inhaled tear gas and raised the slogans of freedom, justice and democracy.

What encouraged me at that time? Hope.

Tunisian woman during the protests of January 14th, 2011

It is during these three post-revolution years that I noticed a wave of hopelessness spreading among my friends and acquaintances. Sometimes when I try to convince them that we should not lose hope and that we are able to build a better future, they confront me with a kind of derision, and affirm even that they regret the departure of the ousted president. How sad and confused I feel when I encounter a young person giving up easily instead of standing up for the sake of his country!

Some other friends, however, are persuaded that, as long as we are alive, dictatorship will never come back on our land. They believe in a flourishing future, citing verses of our national anthem which became the slogan of our revolution: “If the people wanted life, Destiny must respond”- Abu Alkassem Alchabbi³.

Thus, the change should stem from us. It is true that Tunisia is nowadays facing some political and economic issues, but it is with hope that we will be able to solve them and move on in building our country’s future. So get up, my compatriot, and listen to me: let’s join our hands to carry on what we started three years ago, let’s learn from our history not to give up. Let’s believe in ourselves and in each other and unite for the next generation’s life.

Listen to a Tunisian woman voice, a woman in whom hope never dies:  Let it be! Let the Jasmines bloom again.

Hajer Tlijani is a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance Middle East.

——————————————-

1 Aziza Othmana is a Tunisian princess. She is most famous for her charities. She freed all her slaves and took them with her to Hajj. She founded and helped to fund a hospital in Tunis in the 17th century (which still has her name).

² Bchira Ben Mrad is a Tunisian feminist. She founded and chairs the Muslim Union of Tunisian Women (Tunisia’s first women’s organization) from 1936 to 1956.

3 Abu Alkassem Alchabbi is a Tunisian poet, best known for writing the final two verses of the current National Anthem of Tunisia.